Thursday, October 16, 2008

1980-today: The “discovery” of the Latino market: increasing corporate interest and control

KGST, KXEX and the small KLIP remained the only Spanish-language radio stations in the Fresno area through the 1970s. In 1972, the city got its first Spanish-language television station, KFTV, which was affiliated with the national Univisión network. This event was something so noteworthy that the Fresno Bee ranked it among the top happenings of the century in Fresno.

The introduction of television did not strongly affect KGST initially. Gutierrez said radio had some advantages over both television and the press.

The people would have their radios on all day long while they were picking the cherry tomatoes, all day long, and mostly, it was on KGST, so the immediacy of radio was a selling point for us. You cannot carry a TV with you and listen to it all day long… They could get all their news on radio. Why go anywhere else? They could be picking cherry tomatoes and listening to the news that they would have to sit down and read in the newspaper.

KGST continued to grow through the 1970s and 1980s, as did the Latino population of the Central Valley and the nation, something to which advertisers were paying increasing attention. The “Latino” or “Hispanic” market was the creation of advertisers to a great extent, overlooking regional and class differences in taste and buying patterns. The broad descriptor referred to anyone of Spanish or Latin American origin living in the U.S. whether they were first or fifteenth generation. It usually referred to those who still spoke Spanish at home, as advertisers felt that English-speaking Latinos could be reached through English-language mass media. Stations like KGST were identified by national advertisers as a way to reach the “Latino” market. However, KGST’s listeners still considered themselves mexicano or Mexican-American; a U.S. Latino identity did not trump national affiliations.

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